The brain accounts for around 2 percent of body weight but gets as much as twenty percent of blood pumped by the heart. There are about 370 miles of tiny “microvessels” in the brain. Those vessels deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the brain.
Blood Pressure and Brain Health
Two recently-released studies reveal the importance of blood pressure management to brain health. More importantly, the researchers discovered the importance of managing blood pressure in one’s forties, or even younger. Dr. Matthew Pase, PhD, and Research Fellow in Neurology at the University of Boston School of Medicine, and Dr. Charles DeCarli, Professor of Neurology at the University of California Davis, presented a paper at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July. (We’ve mentioned Pase in previous newsletters and posts. He used the highly-regarded Framingham Heart Study to produce the now famous, and famously disconcerting, study on the deleterious affects of not only sugary soda, but also diet soda.) Pase and DeCarli used Framingham data to determine whether high blood pressure experienced at younger ages had lingering effects on the brain later in life.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Christopher Lane, MD and PhD, and Jonathan Schott, MD and Professor of Neurology, both at University College London, were studying the same topic, using a group of about 13,000 participants who have been part of a UK research project since their birth in 1946.
Both research teams reached the same conclusion: that high blood pressure in the age range of forty-to-early-fifties can result in brain damage that shows up around age 70. The damage is done to those microvessels. Curiously, high BP that occurs in the late fifties and beyond doesn’t seem to have as negative an effect. Link to a summary of that research here.
An online search for “ideal blood pressure” and ways to manage blood pressure will deliver all the information you could possibly want. There are a number of non-medical ways to improve BP, as well as a number of effective medicines. Don’t damage your big brain.
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